For Pride Month, NAMI Toledo reached out to Equality Toledo, a Toledo organization that advocates for the LGBTQ community, and asked a few questions. The responses are from Brent Rabie, Equality Toledo’s Deputy Director.
1. How would you say mental health issues affect the LGBTQ community? Is there anything you would like to highlight about how LGBTQ people may grapple with mental health issues or a particular mental health issue?
Mental health issues are something that many people in the LGBTQ community deal with, especially our LGBTQ youth and the Trans community. While we have made many strides, we still face stigma and discrimination in our daily lives. More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures so far in 2021. These bills prohibit transgender youth from being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, gender-affirming medical care; prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports; banning transgender people from having access to restrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity and allow people to assert a religious belief as justification to deny services. Anti-LGBTQ legislation like this takes a toll on the community as a whole. Many of these bills attack the groups most at risk. LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to feel suicidal than their heterosexual peers. The LGBTQ community wants to live a happy, healthy life with all the same rights as everyone else.
2. Does the LGBTQ community and Equality Toledo have any views about the issue and problem of mental health stigma, prejudice, and discrimination?
Many people struggle to talk about mental health and finding the services needed to address it. We find that it can sometimes be a struggle to find supportive, inclusive, and affirming mental health services/providers.
3. What do you think is most important about Pride Month?
Pride month is important because it’s a time to celebrate all that we have achieved and to remember all of those who fought and sacrificed to get us this far. The first Pride was a riot led by a black Trans woman. That’s something important that can’t ever be forgotten. So, while we take this month to celebrate, Pride is 24/7, 365 days a year, and we have to keep pushing forward for full equality. The push for equality is like pushing a boulder up a hill. If you stop pushing the boulder, all the progress will fall right back down on you. But we’re still pushing!
4. Any other comments or views you would like to express regarding mental health and the LGBTQ community.
Everyone’s coming out journey is different. I hope that Pride can be a beam of rainbow light for someone who’s struggling. The visibility of Pride and LGBTQ people can help the child in rural Ohio who thinks there’s no one else like them realize that they are not alone, and it does get better. In Toledo, we celebrate Pride in August. This year because of covid, things will be scaled back, but I encourage everyone to support Pride and all our local LGBTQ organizations.